Typical Woodward fare — inside info, who’s feuding with whom, sequencing of how it all happened, etc. I recommend reading articles about the book because they confirmed for me what I had been intuiting all along. As all of the drama unfolded, I speculate that the military intransigence necessitated the timeline tactic: “OK, I’ll try it your way, but not for long. You’ve got until mid 2011 to produce results…”
In reading the following articles, once again I am left mystified as to why the author has such access to all the main players. I speculate that it is his reputation for even-handedness, accurate quoting and professionalism. This piece, "New Woodward expose details Afghan policy battles" is from Reuters (9/22/10). To summarize:
Members of President Barack Obama's national security team have waged an internal battle over Afghan policy that has been marked by bitter infighting, according to a new book by journalist Bob Woodward.
The most trustworthy news source, in my opinion is the Financial Times. On 9/22/10, they headlined, Book to expose US rifts on Afghan policy. The full story is well worth the read. It illustrates how the President was quite willing to let his "team of rivals" fully debate this most difficult of dilemmas, what to do about Afghanistan (and Pakistan). To quote its summary:
Senior advisers to Barack Obama have waged bitter battles and turf wars over Afghan policy, according to Bob Woodward, the veteran Washington Post reporter
Second only to the FT as a major news source, is the New York Times. According to Peter Baker, (9/22/10), the Woodward book says Afghanistan divided the White House, That seems utterly predictable, given all the expertise, experience and strong personalities around the table. To quote,
Some in the White House have doubts about President Obama's Afghan strategy, this new book reports.
The final headline, "White House seeks to limit fallout from Afghan war book," comes via Reuters on 9/22/10. Again to summarize:
The White House on Wednesday sought to limit any fallout from a new book that chronicles bitter infighting among President Barack Obama's aides who helped craft his Afghan war strategy, with some doubting it can succeed.
The White House, rightly, emphasized that the strong lengthy debate was necessary to reach the best conclusion, reflecting the President's policy decisions as Commander in Chief. It appears to be the best of Obama finding common ground -- pragmatic, reasoned and following the advice of the military, though not blindly.
I conclude with this little opinion blurb from CQ Behind the Lines, by David C. Morrison - 9/23/10:
Feds: “Is Obama right?” Max Fisher inquires of Atlantic readers, in re: the presidential claim found in Bob Woodward’s latest book that “We can absorb a terrorist attack” — as Media Matters’ Adam Shah sees the right fringe reading this as Obama’s fervent wish for another 9/11.“Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Iranian nuclear weapons — they dominated elections in recent years, but they’re nowhere to be found in this year’s broad national campaign debate,” The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan surveys.
Related posts from the past:
- McChrystal Credited with Revolution in Counterterrorism Techniques, by Jeff Stein at Spy Talk (5/31/09)
- McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure' (Bob Woodward/Washington Post) - 9/28/09